The government made changes earlier this year to provide more leeway for employees wanting to request flexible working conditions. But have staff members for the UK’s small and medium sized businesses been taking full advantage of this move?

If findings from a new study conducted by healthcare insurance provider Bupa are anything to go by, it would seem that many workers are far from convinced that anything has changed.

The statistics show that only 6% of UK SME employees think that having this right to request flexible working has made a difference. Less than a third (32%) were confident that their boss would support a flexible working request and 37% were concerned about losing their job altogether.

SMEs need to embrace flexible working and better benefits

Richard Norris, SME Director at Bupa, believes small businesses must have an open mind to flexible working hours.

He said: “While not every job or industry lends itself to flexible working, by supporting it where appropriate, leaders and managers can help attract talent and keep their workforce happy and productive.”

Mr Norris also believes employers need to invest in providing better benefits for their staff.

“The power of the benefits package in attracting, motivating and retaining employees should not be underestimated,” he added.

“Those who do so face the very real risk that talent could be lost to competitors.”

Benefits help create a happy workforce

The Bupa research showed a clear correlation between excellent benefits and a happy workforce.  A total of 59% believed offering great benefits led to increased wellbeing and motivation, while 51% thought not offering any perks made an employer unattractive to potential new recruits.

The only element that was considered to be more important in attracting quality employees than benefits was the salary.